David Livingstone Smith, on Trump

Trump understands far more clearly than any of his competitors that politicians are salvation peddlers, and he uses that insight to great effect.

I doubt that this is deliberate or calculated. Rather, it seems more like a salesman’s gut understanding of human psychology. And it’s because he successfully positions himself as a savior that those who are hooked on Trump are prepared to turn a blind eye to his shortcomings, incoherencies, and his uneasy relationship with reality.

But how did Trump come to be a savior?

The first task of an aspiring savior is to convince people that they need to be saved. To do this, Trump uses the same rhetorical techniques as Adolf Hitler did during the 1930s.

I understand how incendiary the comparison is, so I use it advisedly — and with respect to this specific talent, if you can call it that, of both men.

For more, go here.

3 thoughts on “David Livingstone Smith, on Trump

  1. What the author is describing here is just “victim-villain-hero.” It’s a frame that pretty much every candidate for office uses at some time or another. Hitler didn’t invent it.

  2. There’s a lot of middle class professionals saying that people are supporting Trump because they’re unhappy, pissed off, scared etc – but has there been much research asking the Trump voters what they think? I would really like to know what their views are.

  3. I’m not really sure how much mileage you get out of asking people why they support particular candidates. Many people either don’t know or would give glib answers. But there’s plenty of publicly available entrance/exit poll research from the states that have voted where people are asked which issues are important. Trump voters are disproportionately likely to cite “immigration” as an important issue, and they overwhelmingly are not at all concerned about electability of the candidate. They also report being angry at the economy/society, tend to be older, tend to be somewhat less conservative than other GOP primary voters, tend to be more independent/less Republican, and tend to favor outsiders over established politicians.

    There’s also interesting work purporting to show that Trump supporters are likely to be an authoritarian personality type: http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/01/donald-trump-2016-authoritarian-213533.

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